On a daily basis I read a number of online columns, mostly on news websites or at least current affairs websites. And every single day I get worked up - sometimes with the original piece, but most times with the idiots responding in the comments section.
Every day there is at least one column of comments ranting about how some 'reporter/journalist' has gotten the facts wrong or hasn't done enough research into the art of knitting farmyard animals (to pick a randomly obscure subject). To be honest, the topic usually holds more gravity, such as nationality, race or gender issues, but it's not the subject matter that irks me. It's the response that crawls under my eyeballs and straight into my bloodstream...
"I dont no how u can cal urself an reporter when u dont evn get the fact strate u r so biassed"
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating the spelling/grammar pet peeve (not really, more on that later), but please can we get one thing straight - columns and editorials are NOT news, they are not factual, they are often not even an attempt at The Truth. They are opinion-pieces and are meant to be one-sided. They are the point of view of one, very subjective and, yes... opinionated person.
So the piece that chick wrote, on how she feels about affirmative action, is indeed biased. It's a column and it's her opinion. Just the same as that guy who wrote that he would never like to live in America. His column is not the result of an extensive research project. His column might as well be based on the fact that he doesn't like prime-time viewing. That's the point. You don't have to agree with it, and the editors actually prefer that you don't. By all means, argue your own case, but please don't waste time focusing all your coordination on typing an angry (illiterate) comment pointing out the fact that he has written his opinion. Assume it is so.
Right, now that we've cleared up the difference between 'news article' and 'opinion piece' (and without even beginning to delve into the issues of why there can never be just one journalistic truth. Why do you think there is a conspiracy theory to counter every history textbook? Where was I going with this... time to end parenthesis), and we're back... now that we've cleared up that definition, let's focus a bit on the comments themselves.
First, if you publish a column on a public forum with commenting facilities, you open yourself up to the deluge of responses. Fair enough. Similarly, if you comment on such a public forum, you have to accept that people are probably going to respond to your comment. Especially if it is idiotic and ill-written. And those are generally the most aggressive responses, also generally the ones that miss the point of the article in the first place.
Someone who writes a column about how apartheid affected their life, is not necessarily racist. And writing about crime does not make someone pro-Australia (hey, I said not necessarily. And besides, that's just MY opinion). But badly-spelt comments that instruct the author to, 'just go die in a pool of blud,' and such-like are really not adding much to the debate, are they?
Okay, I can't base this rant on anything substantial. It's just something that I've noticed time and time again during my quiet reading time and it really gets my blood up. One day, when I'm president, I'm going to institute these laws:
1) Eligibility to vote will be determined by an IQ test.
2) Eligibility to breed will be determined by a similar test, and probably subject to license.
It's a long shot, but I'm hoping this would eventually result in intelligent posting on comment forums.